Andrzej (Andrew) Stopka

Director, Engineering and Rig Construction, Patterson-UTI Energy, Houston
Stopka, Andrew

Growing up in upstate New York, Andrzej (Andrew) Stopka had little exposure to oil and gas. His first taste came when he enrolled at Texas A&M University and his enthusiasm for the industry grew when he interviewed for a job modifying and designing offshore platforms. “Not only did flying on a helicopter to work sound fun,” he says, “but my boss at the time was from New York, as well.”

Which of your professional achievements are you most proud of?
“Completing the entire design of a four-leg fixed offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico at the age of 25. I worked at a small company at the time and was given the opportunity to be the lead engineer on the project. Offshore platforms are very complex to design and the underwater structure made completely of steel is designed to float during installation. This type of project is every structural engineer’s dream and some never get this kind of opportunity.”

Describe a memorable professional experience.
“Seeing one of the first rigs I helped build at Patterson-UTI in a Yahoo news article. I came in midway through the project and we spent about three years building and rebuilding this rig. There are always good and bad days on projects of this length. Seeing the rig with the Rocky Mountains in the background as it went to Colorado on a common news outlet finally made it feel like a success.”

Who is your mentor?
“My father has been my biggest mentor over the years. The most valuable lesson he drilled into me was whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all. I apply this to every part of life, whether it be my personal or professional life—anything from sweeping the floor to leading my team.”

What advice would you give other young professionals?
“Work harder than anyone else around you, volunteer for everything and treat everyone how you would like to be treated. Success is always right around the corner even though you might be tired, it’s late, you’re at work and almost ready to give up—don’t, because it will come.”

Which transformations do you think the industry must undertake for it to thrive in the future?
“I believe we cannot be afraid of change and need to always be pushing new technology. The big thing today is reducing the impact to the environment, which is somewhat like what we experienced during the Industrial Revolution. We will need to adapt with the times and preserve the world we live in.”

Three More Things
  1. I was born is a small ski town in Zakopane, Poland and moved to upstate New York when I was 5. My parents put me on a 45-minute school bus my second week in the country without knowing a single word of English. The first day was a bit tough and a blur but, when I got back on the bus, I knew home was not far away. The first English words I learned were “open window” as it was hot. Before long, I was one of few 6-8-year-olds setting up my parents’ home phone, car insurance and TV services.
  2. I helped my Polish-speaking father start up a small construction company while in middle school. We went from a 1.25-man show (dad + me) to building multi-million-dollar ski vacation homes.
  3. My most challenging success in life is my relationship with my wife Morgan. We started dating in high school almost 20 years ago when we were still kids and have been together since. I would not be where I am today without her. This relationship has been more rewarding and important than any degree, work accomplishment or promotion.